Headlines: February 5th, 2001

Funding is to be provided to make it easier for young people to go on to university from areas where there is no tradition of higher education. The Excellence Challenge initiative, launched in September 2000, currently supports the move to higher education for young people in some inner city and urban areas. The new proposal will extend Excellence Challenge to secondary schools and further education colleges in Education Action Zones.The new funding will help to provide resources for schools, more support for young people and better information about the route to higher education. Opportunity Bursaries worth 2,000 pounds over 3 years will be aimed at bright students from disadvantaged backgrounds, where there is little or no family history of higher education. The Bursaries are intended to help with the initial costs of starting a university course with such expenses as books, equipment and deposits for accommodation, as well as giving the students the necessary financial confidence to complete their studies.

Other measures will include access to mentors for help in identifying and addressing individual needs, additional support for transition between school, post 16 education and higher education and other work to develop increasingly positive attitudes towards post 16 education and higher education amongst young people and their families.

Education Action Zones have been set up in areas with a mixture of socialdeprivation and under-achievement. They are in both urban and rural areas, where groups of schools have agreed to take up the challenge of raising their educational standards. There are 73 large education action zones.